I’d never heard of Danby Lodge National Park Centre until I’d started researching all the places to visit in Yorkshire. As it turns out it is a real gem of a place to visit and not what I was expecting at all. There is plenty to do there and we spent just over 3 hours there including lunch in their cafe.
Danby Lodge National Park Centre Things To Do Review
The centre is situated on the outskirts of the moorland village of Danby in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors. The centre is a former shooting lodge set on the banks of the River Esk. Apart from the parking, it is a free day out. There is a trail you can pay for but we chose to do everything else on offer instead. The buildings below aren’t a row of houses they are the buildings for the visitor centre.
We arrived around 10 am and the play area was really quiet. We regretted not heading there first as it was really busy by around 11 am. The place in general wasn’t overly busy, just the play area. Instead, we headed into the centre and straight for their new exhibition space. It’s relatively small but excellent. There are various interactive displays mostly aimed at kids. We literally could have spent ages in there.
The first room had a video playing of things to do in the area. You then make your way through the exhibitions. Most of them are there to be educational and teach kids about fish (mostly the local salmon), ironstone, the railways and more.
Upstairs there were more interactive displays plus a small room with some climbing walls. The walls don’t go particularly high so are safe for most kids to try out.
Also in the centre, there is a shop, a cafe and a gallery. We had a wander in the gallery to see their current exhibition. I wouldn’t recommend this space for younger kids as they could easily knock into something by mistake.
We then headed for the now busy play area. It’s not huge but there are some nice and relatively new looking pieces of play equipment. There was a small slide, things to spin and bounce on, a climbing frame and a couple of other things.
Just behind the play area, there is the Salmon Labyrinth. Oh my gosh! This looked small but it took ages. (child is pretending to be a salmon in the photo!) Behind the hedge, there is also a woodland kitchen for messy mud-pie making. They have ovens, cupboards, pots and pans. This is open from Spring until the end of November. Needless to say, my son gave it a miss.
We headed back up to the centre to enquire about their trails. They currently have a trail with a clipboard and sheets that cost £2 and there is a prize at the end. We chose not to do this and instead picked up the free trail sheet for Crow Wood.
Before that, we had lunch in the cafe. It’s a nice modern cafe with indoor and outdoor seating. I say modern because there are some different choices to the normal menu you would expect of a visitor centre cafe. We opted to share four of their tapas dishes which made a nice change. Dogs are welcome outdoors.
After lunch, we headed into Crow Wood to look for everything on our clue sheet. Oh my gosh, this trail was pretty impossible. I think some of the plaques/doors have been damaged or stolen which was a big shame. We found a few of the fairy houses and fairy doors but after much wandering about I’m afraid we failed in finding around 1/3 of what was on the sheet. Rather than there being a set route you just have to wander aimlessly about and keep your eyes peeled.
In the woods, there were a couple of ‘talking’ statues’. Sadly one of them wasn’t working. We also found another near the cafe and the river. These tell interesting stories of the area in the past. There is also an excellent dragon sculpture near the river and at the top end of the overflow car park, there is a small obstacle course. We left feeling like we hadn’t quite found everything that there was to do there, but maybe we had?
We both really enjoyed our day out and it felt like something a bit different to other days out we’d had recently.
Danby Lodge National Park Centre FAQ & Further Information
Address: Lodge Ln, Whitby YO21 2NB, North Yorkshire
Category – Great Outdoors – Exhibition – Indoors and Outdoors – Suitable for all ages.
What are the ticket prices?
The centre is free to visit. There is an optional trail that costs £2 per person.
What are the main facilities and things to do?
Centre with interactive exhibits and a climbing wall, outdoor play area, trails and sculptures. There are toilets and a cafe.
When are they open?
They have quite a varied opening schedule. Please follow this link for further information. They are open for most of the year and are closed midweek in January and February.
Is there food available?
There is a cafe serving hot and cold food and drinks.
Is there parking?
There is a car park, charges apply.
Are they dog friendly?
Dogs are welcome on a lead outdoors. They are not, however, permitted in Crow Wood.